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article imageRio mayor considers slashing funds for carnival

By AFP     Jun 12, 2017 in World

Rio de Janeiro Mayor Marcelo Crivella said Monday that he is considering drastic cuts to city funding for the samba schools at the heart of the annual carnival extravaganza.

City hall currently gives some two million reais, or more than $600,000, to each of the 12 top schools making up the so-called Special Group, which competes at the Sambodromo stadium in elaborate parades.

However, after two years of a deep national recession, the city is looking for budget cuts and Crivella, a former bishop in the evangelical Universal Church of the Kingdom of God is known to be lukewarm about the carnival excesses.

This year, he broke with longstanding tradition by not attending the opening of the Sambodromo parades in what was widely seen as a snub to the event's wild party culture.

Now, Crivella is studying a plan to take about half of the approximately $7 million budget for the samba schools and use it for funding the approximately 15,000 children in municipal kindergartens.

"What we are doing is reflecting on how to spend in a better way -- whether to use these resources for a three-day party or spread out over 365 days," the mayor's office said.

The carnival contest is the high point in several weeks of festivities that bring in an estimated $1 billion in revenues to the city.

Jorge Luiz Castanheira, president of the Independent League of Samba Schools, said reducing aid would "be a step backwards" for the world-famous event.

"Raising the budget for kindergartens is definitely important, but it's also treating the carnival in a simplistic way," he told O Globo newspaper.

"Above all it's the economy surrounding the carnival -- the hotels, restaurants and activities -- that generate tax revenues."

The carnival also suffered another blow this February when a huge float got out of control and ran into a crowd, injuring several dozen people, one of whom died of her injuries in April.

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